NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Disney (DIS) holds U.S. media rights to the World Cup and Budweiser (BUD), Coca-Cola (KO), McDonalds (MCD) and Visa (V) will all be major advertisers, but it will be Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) that could shine above all other large U.S. companies in Brazil.
The World Cup provides Twitter an unparalleled venue to showcase its advertising platform and, consequently, the tournament could change how investors think about the company. Twitter seems to understand the importance of the World Cup to its first year as a public company, and it is aggressively rolling out tools to help users follow the action on the social network.Behind the scenes, Twitter also is using the tournament in Brazil as a trial for advertisers who may not fully understand how to use the micro-blogging site. In Europe, Twitter recently hosted a series of daylong World Cup training runs with advertisers in what the company calls its Live Studio to get them prepared for the tournament. Those training sessions were used to demonstrate the ways advertisers can use Twitter as a marketing platform for campaigns that target a real-time event. With footage from previous tournaments, Twitter said its Live Studio training sessions ran through specific test cases of on-field action where a marketing opportunity emerged. "[T]he work that we're doing to touch marketers and agencies is less about why Twitter, and more about how Twitter," Adam Bain, Twitter's chief revenue officer, said of the company's Live Studio at a recent investor conference. "It turns out you can actually plan for being live or plan for being in the moment," Bain added, while noting that a key aspect of Twitter's partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group includes such training sessions to help advertisers. It will be interesting to see if and how advertisers find new ways of using Twitter this World Cup. One feature to watch is a recently launched Twitter Cards product, which bundles photos, videos and captions in a single tweet. Twitter Cards may give some advertisers the added messaging and context they want to go beyond a 140-character message, a link or a photo. A Break from Commercial Breaks While live events like the SuperBowl, the Oscars, and the Olympics are well known as key moments for Twitter, the World Cup has one subtle advantage: There are no commercial breaks during soccer matches. If Neymar or Jozy Altidore score a winning goal, there is little in the moment that a TV advertiser can do. The next commercial only comes at halftime or after the final whistle has blown. Twitter provides an obvious alternative, or even an additive platform, for those who might have spent millions on 30-second TV spots. For most of Twitter's users and partners, this will also be their first World Cup on the micro-blogging site. New World Cup Features Twitter appears to be doing everything possible to train its users on how to follow the World Cup, and it has created a multitude of easy-to-use functions that could boost engagement during the tournament. It won't be surprising if World Cup diehards around the world are glued to both their TV sets and their Twitter accounts throughout the tournament. Twitter's World Cup functionality includes country and player guides, in addition to hashtags for individual games and teams that will open easy channels of communication on timelines when the tournament begins. Games such as the opening match of the World Cup, Brazil's group stage match against Croatia on June 12, will have their own page on Twitter, giving users real-time scores, player Twitter handles and reactions. All 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup have Twitter accounts, and over 300 players participating in the tournament are on the micro-blogging site. Twitter users will also be able to tailor their profiles depending on the country or players they support. It wouldn't be surprising if Twitter's World Cup features attract new users, something the company has said is a priority. Twitter's world cup features may allow users to communicate in a more defined space, possibly boosting collaboration, Jeff Sica, of Sica Wealth Management, said in a Wednesday email. Sica calls Twitter's World Cup tools "a great way to attract people to Twitter and make them the go-to destination for soccer fans over the next month." These projects are also necessary for Twitter. After all, the company acknowledges it benefits significantly from large real-time events, whether it is a World Cup, an election or even a natural disaster.